MANILA - A government task force in charge of rebuilding Marawi City denied Monday that residents of the wartorn city were not consulted on the government's planned reconstruction of their hometown.
Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Task Force Bangon Marawi spokesman, claimed most of those who oppose the government's plan to construct an "eco-zone" and military camp in the city are not residents of Marawi.
"Most of those na umo-oppose are not residents. In fact if you talk to the residents, they are in favor of the military camp kasi they want security," he told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview. "It's like opposition for opposition's sake."
Purisima said talks with the local government officials, traditional and religious leaders, and even the "bakwits" or the internally displaced Maranaos are ongoing. He said the last consultation was as recent as last week.
But Sultan Abdul Atar, spokesperson of the Ranaw Multi-Sectoral Movement, slammed the task force's claim, saying members of the group are all from Marawi.
He said the task force is only consulting the local government and not the residents themselves.
"These people—Task Force Bangon Marawi—should study the genealogy of the Maranaos. All of the Maranaos are connected to one another. All Maranaos, part of our lineage is from Marawi," Atar, who himself has a house in ground zero, told ABS-CBN News.
The group, which led Friday's peace rally, earlier released a statement appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene and stop the plan to establish an "eco-zone" and military camp within the city, calling it "an invasion of a different kind."
Those who live in Marawi's 24 most affected barangays on Sunday were allowed to visit what was left of their homes by batch. Each batch is allowed 3 days to go to the ruins of their house, salvage whatever they can.
The government will close the most affected areas again after May 10 as they start to clean up the debris left by the 5-month battle. Clearing of debris may take up to 1 year, said Col. Romeo Brawner, Deputy Commander of Task Force Ranao.
Meanwhile, a MindaNews report said the Bagong Marawi Consortium, composed of 5 Chinese and four local firms and led by China State Construction Engineering Corp. Ltd., has been selected to build a "new Marawi" within the 250-hectare Ground Zero.
Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Secretary General Falconi Ace Millar earlier said China and Malaysia have expressed interest in submitting a proposal for the rehabilitation of parts of Marawi City worst affected by conflict.
The winning proposal will then be subjected to a Swiss challenge “wherein the public may submit their proposals contesting the original proponent,” Mallari said.